2019 Speakers


Bonnie Boettcher | President

HR Sherpaz

With a career spanning over two decades in the human resources and hospitality industries, Bonnie specializes in employment branding, talent acquisition, training and leadership development, career coaching and counseling, employee relations, legal and regulatory, and risk management.

In numerous progressive roles, Bonnie has guided businesses to reflect her conviction of “putting people first,” while balancing profitability. She believes in taking a forward-thinking collaborative approach to growth and development of employees, through an open and honest communicative style. In doing so, she has positively impacted teams of over 5,000 employees.

Bonnie expresses her passion for Human Resources in many outlets, including her memberships at the Society for Human Resource Management, the Women’s Food Service Forum, Wisconsin Restaurant Association, Metropolitan Builders Association and the Alma Center. In addition, she is a member of the Alma Center board. She has also participated in several speaking engagements at Fox Valley Technical College and WCTC.

Bonnie spends her free time traveling and cooking. She also enjoys games of cribbage with her husband, Brian, and shopping with her daughter Rachel. She especially attending her twelve-year-old granddaughter Kennedy’s (aka Peanut) sporting events.

HR Sherpaz gives back to the community by providing pro bono HR support to non-profit causes that are near and dear to their hearts.




Dave Larson | Senior Director of Hospitality

Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee

Dave Larson is the Senior Director of Hospitality for the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee. In this role, Dave is responsible for aligning over 1500 incoming events during the Democratic National Convention, with local resources including venues. He and the rest of the events team, will also plan and execute major events leading up to and in the days around the convention.

Previous to this job Dave was the Director of Convention Services at VISIT Milwaukee for the past 11 years. In his tenure, he and his team has worked with 3500 events with over 5 million attendees. Major events include the National Governors Association Annual Meeting, Harley-Davidson's Anniversaries, and Northwestern Mutuals' meetings.

He specializes in aligning national event needs with local Milwaukee resources. Dave is proud of his work to further the hospitality industry through his work at ESPA and Destinations International and locally with the MATC Advisory Committee and Community Intervention Team. In his personal life, he has completed over 20 marathons and 2 Ironman Triathlons.




Mark Laux

Hot Operator

Mark Laux helps restaurant owners, operators and marketers make communications and menus that produce a high return on investment and increase revenue through building powerful brands.

Mark started in the advertising communications business working with manufacturers and distributors in the foodservice industry. He led an advertising agency that helped a small, Midwestern appetizer company selling to restaurants grow their business from less than $1 million in sales to over half a billion. During that time, Laux was recruited by Wells Dairy, Blue Bunny Ice Cream, Farmland Foods, General Mills, ConAgra and Otis Spunkmeyer, McDonald's, Mels Diners among others for their expertise in marketing and brand building.

While Mark and The Laux Agency worked with foodservice manufacturers, distributors and operators, Mark saw the need for restaurants to improve their communications to increase their profitability, and through that vision created HotOperator.

Today Mark spends his business energy at HotOperator specializing in restaurant marketing, menu development, social media marketing, foodservice advertising, and consulting for the restaurant business. He has helped restaurant owners, operators, and marketers all across the country engineer menus and develop communications that produce a higher return on investment and increase revenue. Specifically, he drives toward a higher spend average, improved plate contribution, and a more satisfying dining experience for consumers. He believes everyone benefits from a healthy and profitable restaurant business community.




Brian Lee, APR | President

Revelation PR, Advertising & Social Media

Brian Lee, APR, is the president of Revelation PR, Advertising & Social Media, an integrated communications agency that specializes in the restaurant/retail industry. He also is a part-time lecturer on social media at Madison Area Technical College and the author of the book, “Using Social Media for Business.” In addition, Brian runs a dining guide called, which features a blog ranked No. 1 by Zomato.




Lorinda F. Lewis, PhD, DBA | President

Guided Problem Solving Training & Consulting LLC

Dr. Lewis is a scholar-practitioner, established in a wide variety of disciplines and areas of business. She has a passion for leading and developing others. She has accumulated her perspective through an unusual career trajectory that includes her experiences as a retired Air Force logistician, a continuous improvement and P&L executive of a Fortune 500 company, an adjunct professor at universities, and as a pro bono continuous improvement coach for Collective Impact Initiatives with not-for-profit agencies. She is a prominent public speaker and published academician who can translate complex ideas into relatable stories to inspire audiences of all levels. As a public speaker, she is in high demand internationally at academic and industry conferences as well as corporate leadership events. As an ICF & CCA certified executive coach, she facilitates classes, events and offers one-on-one professional development training and mentoring in public and private workshops. She is certificated to administer the Kirton Adaption-Innovation (KAI) Inventory, illuminating cognitive problem-solving styles. She is a licensed facilitator of Celemi Business Simulation Workshops, improving team member engagement and business acumen. As an adjunct faculty member at universities, she teaches business and leadership courses including organization development, lean, change management, coaching and mentoring for business, marketing, and global business strategy.

Lorinda has earned a Ph.D. in Business from Northcentral University and a DBA in Quality Systems from American Meridian University.




Sam McDaniel

Restaurant and Hospitality Consultant

Sam is a lifelong hospitality professional, with more than 25 years of experience in restaurants and food and wine production, sales and service. He is currently a consultant for restaurants and food and beverage companies, while also serving as the Food Pantry Coordinator at the Goodman Community Center, a neighborhood non-profit in Madison.

Sam has been a key player in the development of many thriving companies, and shaped the path of those organizations, both as an employee and as an outside consultant.  Sam has worked with large national restaurant and hospitality companies as well as independent restaurants, and has been directly involved in opening more than a dozen restaurant and food and wine retail outlets.  He has worked in sales, supply and distribution in the wine and beer business, including creating the Pioneer wine brand as a collaboration between Standard Market in Illinois and the Barra Family Winery in Mendocino County, CA.

For those businesses, he has had a wide-ranging set of responsibilities: he has overseen the leadership structure and conceptualized and written the mission and culture documents; been responsible for company financial performance; and been heavily involved in business planning, including marketing, sales, labor and profitability projections and management. Most importantly, he has had the opportunity to take the lead in hiring, training and mentoring a large and diverse group of people and building a successful community of partners, customers and stakeholders with them. Sam's consulting work now focuses on helping food and beverage entrepreneurs hire, develop and retain the high quality, high performing employees that are necessary to build a sustainable food and beverage business.




Dan Ritter | Director of People Analytics


Dan is the Director of People Analytics at illumyx, using data to help clients understand how teams get work done and how to optimize organizational culture. Dan is a former logistics manager who led operations from last place rankings to top of class. He attributes this success to a combination of metric-based performance analysis and intentionally cultivating a workplace experience that emphasized autonomy and positivity.




Spencer X Smith | Founder

AmpliPhi Social Media Strategies

Spencer X Smith is the founder of AmpliPhi Social Media Strategies and an instructor at the University of Wisconsin and Rutgers University. He was formerly a VP of Sales for two Fortune 100 companies.

He's been called a "Social Media Expert" by Forbes, and AmpliPhi is the winner of the 2016-2018 InBusiness Magazine Executive Choice Award for Social Media Consulting Company. Spencer has spoken at over 250 events since 2015, including a presentation at the New York Stock Exchange in  September 2017. 

His debut book "ROTOMA: The ROI of Social Media Top of Mind" was featured in Forbes, and is an Amazon Bestseller.




Megan Suardini | Vice President of Marketing & Communications

VISIT Milwaukee

VISIT Milwaukee is a destination marketing organization that markets the Greater Milwaukee area as a top choice for conventions, events and leisure travel, thereby increasing the economic impact of tourism. Megan Suardini oversees the marketing & communications departments at VISIT Milwaukee, where she leads a talented staff of ten in creatively telling Milwaukee’s unique story to the world. Megan was born and raised in Indiana, and attended Xavier University in Cincinnati on a golf scholarship where she graduated with a B.S.B.A in Marketing. With over 18 years of marketing and branding experience, a decade in tourism marketing for both Chicago and Milwaukee, Megan is passionate about urban destinations and how travel can make everyone’s life better.